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statement at the closure of the 8th Ordinary Assembly of the AU
January 31, 2007
Organisations and MDG campaigners welcomed the adoption of the African
Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, but call for greater
urgency in protecting citizens and ensuring their effective participation
in the affairs of the Union.
While the adoption
of the democracy charter indicates AU member states' commitment
to democratic governance, there is urgent need to strengthen implementation
of AU standards. This will require effective arrangements at the
national, sub-regional and continental levels that ensure adherence
and enforcement. "With more than 15 countries undergoing parliamentary
or presidential elections in 2007, three of them being among the
continent's biggest economies including Angola, Kenya and Nigeria,
the immediate importance of a continental Democracy Charter is clear"
says Ozias Tungwarara Director of AfriMAP. "These member-states
should be in the forefront of moves to ratify the Charter," he continues.
The civil organisations committed to popularise the Democracy Charter
in their respective countries.
society organisations also expressed their regret that the charter
itself was developed without much opportunity for African citizens
or civil society to contribute to and strengthen its content.
With 350 people
dead and tens of thousands displaced in the month of this Summit,
the urgency to act in Darfur, Sudan to bring an immediate halt to
attacks on citizens is paramount. "Like Khartoum, this Summit closed
without strong enough pressure on all parties to cease attacks on
civilians. A quick strong AU- UN force will be a giant step in the
right direction, but the men and women and children of Darfur need
to be safe from attacks now, not three or six months away" says
Désiré Assogbavi Pan Africa Senior Policy analyst
The launch of
the International Year of African football and the 50th anniversary
of the International Confederation of African football was also
major focus of the Summit. Less prominent was 2007 being the mid-point
of the 2015 target set for the achievement of the UN Millennium
Development Goals. The need for a year of increased political commitment
backed up by public financing by African Governments is perhaps
clearer for the continent's poor.
By the Summit's
own admission, 27% of Africa's men, women and children are undernourished
and reliant on agricultural imports and food relief. AIDS, malaria
and tuberculosis threaten life on a scale unparalleled, erases between
1-2% of Africa's growth rate and reduces life expectancy by 25%
for some countries. Yet, less than five countries are close to meeting
the Abuja Commitment to allocate 15% of the national budget to health
services and only three countries have met or exceeded the Sirte
Commitment to allocate 10% of their budgets to agriculture.
"If 2007 is
the International year of African football, then failure to publicly
finance the Millennium Declaration Goals, will result in several
own goals across the continent. Civil Society and Governments must
review Africa's progress towards meeting the MDGs in the July Summit.
They must report to their own citizens before rushing to the UN
General Assembly in September. We do not need excuses; we want concrete
actions " says Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Rahim, Director for Africa for
the United Nations Millennium Campaign.
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